Putin's Speech Elicits Criticism, Mockery

Russian president sparks fears of a 'forever war'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2022 8:00 PM CST
Putin Sparks Concerns About Lasting War
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, chairs a Security Council meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow.   (Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin got the world's attention with his speech Monday. He announced that Russian troops are being deployed to Luhansk and Donetsk for "peacekeeping operations" while laying out his grievances concerning Ukraine. The address was met with widespread condemnation around the world, per the New York Times, as well as in the US. Reaction came from:

  • A Washington Post editorial: "This is the way the postwar world ends, and the post-Cold War world, too: not yet with a bang, and not with anything close to a whimper, but with a rant. ... Rebutting Mr. Putin's arguments is almost beside the point—it's doubtful even he believes his wild accusations about Ukraine as a future platform for NATO aggression."
  • Lithuania: "Putin just put Kafka and Orwell to shame: no limits to dictator's imagination, no lows too low, no lies too blatant, no red lines too red to cross. What we witnessed tonight might seem surreal for democratic world. But the way we respond will define us for the generations to come."—Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonyte, per the New York Times
  • Tom Nichols, writing in the Atlantic: "The speech was, in many places, simply unhinged. ... Putin has now affirmed that he refuses to accept the outcome of the Cold War and that he will fight to dismantle the European system of peace and security constructed by the international community after its end. This is Vladimir Putin's forever war."
  • Shaun Walker, writing in the Guardian: "It seems likely that Putin has much more in mind than simply taking a nibble out of Ukraine's east and taking formal responsibility for territories he already de facto controlled. Putin's final words, that if Kyiv did not stop the violence they would bear responsibility for the 'ensuing bloodshed,' were ominous in the extreme. It sounded, quite simply, like a declaration of war."
  • Ukraine: "We are on our own land. We are not afraid of anything or anyone."—President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a televised response to Putin
(Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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